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Whistler's Mother Gives Way to Younger Woman

At left, 'Symphony in White No. 2,' painted in 1864. At right, 'Arrangement in Grey and Black, No 1,' painted in 1871. See an enlargement of each painting below.
At left, 'Symphony in White No. 2,' painted in 1864. At right, 'Arrangement in Grey and Black, No 1,' painted in 1871. See an enlargement of each painting below.

The somber portrait known to most of us as "Whistler's Mother" (its actual title is "Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1") is out of the latest edition of Janson's History of Art. A more colorful painting by James McNeill Whistler -- which happens to be of a younger, prettier subject -- has been substituted.

The textbook's editor says the 1862 painting "A Symphony in White No. 2" offers a chance to show the artist's Japanese influences. The young woman in the painting holds a delicate Japanese fan.

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'Arrangement in Grey and Black, No 1.'
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'Arrangement in Grey and Black, No 1.'
'Symphony in White No. 2'
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'Symphony in White No. 2'

Susan Stamberg
Nationally renowned broadcast journalist Susan Stamberg is a special correspondent for NPR.